Speech radio up in Rajar results

By Caitlin Pike

The UK’s only national commercial speech station, talkSport, has recorded the highest number of total listening hours in the station’s 10-year history as well as significant year- on-year increases in share and reach, according figures released today by the Radio Joint Audience Research Committee (Rajar).

The station has recorded over 19m total listening hours a week for all four quarters of last year for the first time since the station was launched as Talk Radio in 1995. Total listening hours equals the overall number of hours of adult listening to a station in the UK in an average week.

Speaking at a Rajar press conference, the chief executive of commercial radio’s trade body, the Commercial Radio Companies Association, Paul Brown, said: “I am an avid listener of talkSport and over the last six months its output has improved dramatically. It is far more lively to listen to and this is reflected in the Rajar figures.”

The station also recorded an increased share in listening from 1.6 per cent to 1.8 per cent despite commercial radio losing 1.4 per cent in market share to the BBC over the last year.

Scott Taunton, chief executive of UTV radio and talkSport, said: “To increase listening hours, reach and market share is a fabulous achievement in light of the fact that commercial radio’s market share is down. We’re definitely bucking the trend with a speech format that many in the industry still believe cannot compete against the might of the BBC.”

Brown also mentioned the success of the LBC speech stations which have recorded a significant increase in reach both in London and across the UK The total number of people listening to LBC in London and across the UK has risen by 9.9 per cent to 722,000 over the year. LBC 97.3’s reach in London has increased 14. 7 per cent year on year from 468,000 to 537,000 and share has risen from 2.1 per cent to 2.5 per cent. Despite the station’s success in London, BBC London 94.9FM’s rose above it this quarter with weekly reach remaining over the half million mark increasing to 546,000 listeners – 95,000 up on a last year.

BBC Radio 4’s share is up to 11.8 per cent, the station’s highest figure since the first quarter of 2003 – during the Iraq war – and up from 11.5 per cent last quarter and last year. The station is still the most listened-to station in London. The Today programme attracts 1.75m listeners – equivalent to breakfast listening on Capital, Kiss, Magic and Heart added together.

Controller of BBC Radio 4 Mark Damazer told Press Gazette: “It’s heartening that Radio 4’s share has risen –  particularly because it has not occurred as a result of any extraordinary news event. A number of Radio 4 programmes – in many different parts of the schedule – have been listened to more than before .

“It’s terrific that we do so well in London but I hope we can begin to match that performance across the U.K. Radio 4 is for everyone interested in intelligent speech – no matter where they live, no matter how old they are.”

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